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Scottish Labour absolutely right to commit to tackling student poverty

Monday 09-03-2015 - 12:17

NUS Scotland has welcomed a commitment from Scottish Labour to use any consequentials from increased funding in English higher education to invest in Scottish higher education.

Speaking at Scottish Labour’s conference in Edinburgh, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy outlined plans to invest £58.1m into higher education bursaries as part of a broader package of funding for vocational, further, and higher education of £161.66m. 

NUS Scotland has welcomed the strong commitments to tackling student poverty, and urged all parties to make similar commitments ahead of elections this year and next, to Westminster and Holyrood. NUS Scotland has also called for parties to use the full range of powers available to Scotland to take bold action and make investments in Scottish education and all public services, regardless of policy or funding decisions take elsewhere in the UK. 

Commenting on the announcement, Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland, said:

“This is great news and a very welcome marker for how Scottish Labour would improve the financial help offered to the poorest students in Scotland. NUS Scotland has long campaigned for, and achieved, big increases in student support but in the future we must see increases in bursaries for the poorest students. It's clear our work to bring student poverty up the political agenda is beginning to pay off, which is testament to the thousands of students who have campaigned on this issue over the last few years.

“Scottish Labour are absolutely right to want to use additional money received in Scotland from any reduction in fees in the rest of the UK, to fund better student support in Scotland. However, we must see additional investment regardless of the outcome of May’s UK election, and regardless of whether we see £9,000 fees reduce in the rest of the UK. With the revenue raising powers available to the Scottish Parliament now and in the future, we want to see bold political action taken to ensure the necessary funding for student support and all our vital public services. 

“Ahead of elections this year and next, today's announcement should act as a challenge to all Scottish parties to make a stand on tackling student poverty. We want to see commitments to increases in student support, particularly for our poorest students. If students don’t have enough money to live on, they will be forced to choose between heating and eating, or even to choose between staying on their course or dropping out. That’s simply a huge waste of some of our brightest potential, and a huge waste for our country. We’ll work across the Scottish Parliament and the upcoming elections to see improvements in student support delivered so that all students in Scotland get the support they need to reach their full potential.

 

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